Evidence for Cohesive Dispersal in the Sea

Ofer Ben-Tzvi*, Avigdor Abelson, Steven D. Gaines, Giacomo Bernardi, Ricardo Beldade, Michael S. Sheehy, Georges L. Paradis, Moshe Kiflawi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As with many marine species, the vast majority of coral-reef fishes have a bipartite life cycle consisting of a dispersive larval stage and a benthic adult stage. While the potentially far-reaching demographic and ecological consequences of marine dispersal are widely appreciated, little is known of the structure of the larval pool and of the dispersive process itself. Utilizing Palindrome Sequence Analysis of otolith micro-chemistry (PaSA;) we show that larvae of Neopomacentrus miryae (Pomacentridae) appear to remain in cohesive cohorts throughout their entire pelagic larval duration (PLD; ~28 days). Genetically, we found cohort members to be maternally (mtDNA) unrelated. While physical forcing cannot be negated as contributing to initial cohort formation, the small scale of the observed spatial structure suggests that some behavioral modification may be involved from a very early age. This study contributes to our ongoing re-evaluation of the processes that structure marine populations and communities and the spatial scales at which they operate.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere42672
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
StatePublished - 18 Sep 2012


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